In the harbour
1. Sexual assault by taxi drivers
“There’s been another allegation of a Halifax taxi driver sexually assaulting a female passenger,” writes Halifax Metro editor Philip Croucher. “This is the second-straight weekend that a taxi driver in Halifax has been accused of sexually assaulting a passenger, and the fifth time since late April.”
2. Examineradio, episode 70
This week we speak with journalist and community organizer Kate Watson about her nascent campaign to replace Gloria McCluskey in Dartmouth’s District 5.
Also, despite calls in Charlottetown for Peter Kelly’s contract as CAO to be nullified while he’s still in his probationary period, city council chose to ignore the allegations of fiscal malfeasance at his previous job in Alberta.
Finally, fatcat junior hockey players demand to be paid more than $35/week. Probably because they hate Canada.
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(Subscribe via iTunes)
3. The secret train that could
This coming Thursday, Halifax council’s Transportation Committee will be presented with an “unsolicited proposal regarding commuter rail in Halifax Regional Municipality,” but that proposal will be dealt with in secret.
Why in secret?
The city will argue that the matter is a proposed contract, and contracts can be discussed in secret. Which is true, but the point of discussing contracts in secret is to ensure the city gets the best price. For example, if the city is contemplating buying a piece of property, council might direct staff to spend up to, say, $1 million for it. If the landowner knows that the city will spend up to $1 million, she’ll hold out for that price. If she doesn’t know what the city will pay, she might settle for a lower offer of $900,000. Secrecy makes sense.
But in this instance, there’s no need for secrecy. The offer comes from Via Rail, which certainly knows how much it’s asking to be paid for the service. City staff and committee members will know the details of the offer… so the only people being kept in the dark are citizens — and needlessly so.
The city should make the offer public so we can all discuss it as fully informed citizens.
“This past week the CBC reported on the trials and troubles of Trius Transit, which has a contract to operate public transit for Charlottetown and environs,” notes Richard Starr:
Company owner Mike Cassidy had planned to take advantage of the big ticket federal transit infrastructure program to put ten new vehicles on the road. He made the plans based on the assumption that public transit money announced in the federal budget would, as in the past, be distributed to provinces on a per capita basis.
On that per capita basis, he estimated P.E.I. would get about $4 million, enough to cover most of the cost of ten vehicles. But not so fast. To his surprise, he found out that the Trudeau government had changed the funding formula to base it on how many people use public transit in a given province. Using that method, Charlottetown’s fledgling system (founded just in 2005) was eligible for no more than $660,000 in federal bucks over the next three years. Trius was forced to resort to Plan B, purchasing a fleet of used six-year-old buses from the City of Calgary.
If the enriched $3.38 billion pot [of federal money dedicated to transit] were distributed per capita, P.E.I would be eligible for about $14 million, over three times more than past experience had told Mike Cassidy to expect (and 21 times what it’s in line for). In addition:
• Newfoundland would be eligible for $50 million instead of the measly $4.9 million promised in the budget;
• New Brunswick $70 million instead of $8.7 million;
• Nova Scotia $90 million instead of $32 million;
• On the other hand, Ontario and Quebec would receive only $2.1 billion instead of $2.4 billion.
Starr goes on to note that the Trudeau government is taking the exact opposite approach to health transfers — that is, funding is dispersed on a per capita basis and not on actual need, so elderly-heavy provinces like Nova Scotia are seeing a significant shortfall.
“There have been more than a few labour disputes in this province over the last three decades and, like most journalists, I’ve covered my share,” writes Mary Ellen MacIntyre for Local Xpress.
MacIntyre goes on to chronicle some of those experiences.
3. Cranky letter of the day
To the Charlottetown Guardian:
I struggle with words when writing letters to the Editor; it probably goes back to my days of writing learner-centered lesson plans and developing competency based outcomes; but it may also reflect the impact of Ed Macintosh, who not only introduced me to welding, but also insisted that I apply a “fog index” to everything I write. It can also be applied to what I read.
A brief description of the learning partnership on the Department of Education website speaks of “delivering excellence.” I like the phrase but am not sure what it means when applied to learners and learning. Learning is a personal act; only a learner can learn. Groups or classes do not learn although learners may learn in a group setting. In short, I am not sure what the excellence applies to.
A second consideration involves “delivery”; is excellence delivered, encouraged, supported or modeled? I assume that it will be delivered by teachers but just how they will do that is unclear, as is how excellence will it be measured? If I were a teacher, I certainly would be wondering how “delivering excellence” applies to me or if I had a child in school, I would be wondering how this concept applies to him or her.
Some may consider these comments as simply nitpicking, however, I consider them to be key to good communication about and accountability for the education of our young people.
Don Glendenning, Charlottetown
Accessibility Committee (4pm, City Hall) — no new business.
No public meetings.
Thesis defence, Engineering (1pm, Room 0107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Louis Desgrosseilliers will be defend his thesis, “Design and Evaluation of a Modular, Supercooling Phase Change Heat Storage Device for Indoor Heating.”
Pride Flag Raising (3pm, Carlton Campus Quad) — get your Pride on.
In the harbour
5:30am: Morning Calypso, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southhampton, England
6am: Rotterdam, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 22 from St. John’s with up to 1,404 passengers
8:30am: Maersk Mizushima, oil tanker, sails from Imperial Oil for sea
9am: A.R.C. Gloria, the Columbian navy’s sailing ship, moves to anchorage
3pm: Maule, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Cagliari, Italy
3:30pm: Rotterdam, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Boston, the last leg of a transAtlantic cruise
4pm: Morning Calypso, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
Mylin IV, the superyacht owned by that asshole billionaire Micky Arison, sails from Foundation Wharf to wherever that asshole billionaire Micky Arison wants to go next
What cruise ship passengers really think of Halifax
Over at cruisecritic.com there are 441 cruise ship passenger reviews of Halifax. People who take cruises are for the most part easily pleased, and so Halifax gets four out five possible stars. Most of the reviews are short and simple.
“Halifax is a fun port with plenty of activities as you walk along the pier,” writes Nukester.
“Very walkable city,” writes diabati12.
“Peggy’s Cove is beautiful and must see,” writes knittinggirl.
And one of our taxi drivers evidently gives good tours, at least for TrueBlue66:
Again, booked our own excursion prior to cruise with local taxi/tour guide. Took us for a four-hour tour which ended up being over five hours as he seemed to be enjoying showing off his local area. Went to Peggy’s Cove and missed all the tour buses so got it quiet. Toured many back roads on the coast and enjoyed the scenery. Got dropped off on the boardwalk and after dropping stuff off at the ship walked into town. Very hilly but lots of character. Relaxed feel. Great weather!
Some of the visitors, however, don’t like Halifax at all.
“Lots of construction in Halifax,” writes Ms Mich:
Lower Water Street very cute with shops, restaurants. Seaport Farmers Market a huge disappointment, nothing but cheap jewelry and Asian food inside, not what I saw advertised at all! Did our own walking tour to the Maritime Museum (C$10 admission). Titanic exhibit at Maritime very small, with pieces “out for cleaning,” so rather disappointed in this stop. Coffee at Wired Monk was good. All in all, was not impressed with Halifax. Not picturesque.
“Coming from Ireland, there is nothing unusual there,” writes Shady hollow. “Not worth the cost.”
“Peggy’s Cove was dirty and things were expensive,” writes Seabee64. “Will not do it again.”
“Sad city, nothing very interesting to see or to do, stop here should be avoided,” writes momger.
“Halifax was disappointing,” writes Riceman744:
It was just like any mid-size coastal North American city without much to distinguish it. There were a number of panhandlers and beggars throughout the city. The city garden was pretty, but there just wasn’t much in Halifax that really stood out for us. The Maritime Museum was very morbid. It chronicled the Titanic, the Halifax Explosion, and several other disasters. We knew what the exhibits would be, but it seemed more depressing than we expected.
Damn that depressing Explosion!
We should start reviewing cruise ship passengers.
I’ve been working on a story for a couple of weeks, and will likely post something related to it this morning.
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Peggy’s cove is dirty! I call it the lighthouse district, those rocks are pure evil!
“The Maritime Museum was very morbid. It chronicled the Titanic, the Halifax Explosion, and several other disasters. We knew what the exhibits would be, but it seemed more depressing than we expected.”
This might be the greatest thing I have ever read! LOL
I might pay for two subscriptions if I knew that cruise ship reviews would be a semi-regular column. Maybe there’s not enough content, but those reviews curated makes for a great read!
Outstanding achievement in the field of excellence:
A shout out to the Examiner from the stage of the Jazz Festival with the New Orleans Preservation Hall Jazz Band last night–great show. The singer asked everyone to open their umbrellas so that when he looked at the picture in the daily paper the next morning, he would see a sea of umbrellas in front of the stage. He then asked what is the name of the local paper. After a painfully long pause, the Telegram was suggested and then, eventually, The Examiner. No one shouted out Chronicle-Herald. Maybe it was Tim in the front row, but I like to think it was a gesture of solidarity.
Yes, I quite enjoyed that. I’ll confess I shouted out Xpress, but someone closer to the stage yelled Examiner, and the band got a fairly good cheer when they repeated it. The notable reluctance of anyone to mention the C-H was interesting.
Re: cranky letter of the day. Some days the whole of the “Examiner” is one long “cranky letter” and that’s why it is so delightful to read. Today’s letter about “excellence” approaches metatextual commentary, and thus deserves a special nod. “Excellence” is one of those words that defy definition. A handy word for the bureaucrat. Like the well-known “world class,” so often subject to Bousquetian quotation and commentary.
There is another item slated for in camera discussion, regarding an expansion of the recycling plant. It likely includes info on how much is being paid to Miller for operating it. But that should not be enough reason to go in camera, as they are looking to essentially sole-source the expansion and presumably change the existing contract without tendering. That demands public scrutiny: the awarding and changing of contracts without any competition.
HRM seems to be going in camera more and more. Too bad Peter Kelly isn’t here to open a window or something.
I just got back from Halifax. As someone who knows what the city used to look like from the 60s onward, what saddens me is how much ugly development there is in inappropriate places, destroying historic buildings. An exception is the new library, a very nice place where I stopped to have a coffee and use the wifi, but if Stan Rogers was upset by “Upper Canadian concrete and glass” in 1976 what would he think of the place now? But still, lots of good places to go, particularly in the non-touristy and less expensive parts of town.